Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Eagles Nest Mass

On Friday, May 27th, we organized a mass for the Eagle's Nest, the daycare center at Boston College High School. Parents and their children, ranging from six months old to age five, attended the morning liturgy. Some were doubtful that the time together would be prayerful because children need space to play and express themselves, but we experimented with having mass with them nonetheless. The freshman baseball team and many faculty members joined us.

We were surprised at the prayerful and joyful nature of mass. The parents were well pleased that the church was able to include and welcome in their children and there were no expectations for an orderly liturgy.

We began with a song, "This Little Light of Mine" and the children learned it easily enough. It helped them settle down and pay attention to the fact that something larger was going on around them. They we quieted down to pray a simple opening prayer.

I bought a children's lectionary and sacramentary, which simplified the readings. The homily was brief; the reflection, brief also, was given by a parent who spoke to the children very comfortably. The children even responded with the psalm response. The children are learning the basic structure of the mass and recognizing their participation in it makes it meaningful. Parents were asked beforehand to mention specific prayers their children would connect with during the prayers of the faithful.

We gathered the children in the sanctuary for the Eucharistic prayer. It worked out well for the most part. Some say this as a new playground but most were trying to follow the mass and stood with their parents. We noticed that when we introduced song the children became very engaged. They want to naturally sing and learn the songs. It quieted and centered them. They became naturally quiet as we began communion for the confirmed adults in the congregation. The children came forward for their blessings.

The rite of peace was touching because they children respectfully expressed their goodwill to each other spontaneously. The baseball team kept fighting back smiles because they never experienced a mass quite like this before. Everything held together and the children were simply polite and respectful children.

We ended the liturgy with the sign of the cross and everyone walked away very happy. It was quite an experience.

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